Three cheers for garden cookbooks!

With spring firmly underway and greenery springing up in every direction, I'd like to say a few words in praise of one of my favorite types of cookbooks--kitchen garden books.  Unlike, say, grill books or preserving books, it's not a densely populated category--there might be one every year or two.  They're all roughly the same format:  a focus on each vegetable or fruit, followed by recipes.  Some are arranged alphabetically, some seasonally, some by plant family. 

This year there are two that I know of--practically a bonanza for cooks who garden.  The more hardcore one is Willi Galloway's Grow Cook Eat (Sasquatch Books).  It's got tips and detailed cultivation notes worthy of the aspiring market gardener, as well as solid start-up advice for novices.  But there's only one recipe for each crop; at least it's a well-chosen one in practically every case.  It's the perfect kitchen garden book if you've already got plenty of vegetable recipes and just want to immerse yourself in the growing end of things.

Just the opposite in approach is the Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook (from the editors of Sunset magazine).  It's absolutely chockful of well-constructed, reasonably new recipes.  On the other hand, there's just a skeletal page on how to grow each one, emphasizing mostly why you would grow it and how you would harvest it rather than what you need to do to make it survive in your own patch.  It's more of a cook's book, suitable for visits to your local farmer's market or CSA.

Regardless of their differences, I really like all kitchen garden cookbooks.  Even though it happens every year in my own garden, I still like hearing about how the broccoli develops and how easy it is to grow radishes and how to successfully raise corn. When it comes to these stories about where our food comes from, I'm no different from my 5-year-old and her bedtime books.  I could read them over and over again.

1 Comment

  • ellabee  on  5/16/2012 at 11:06 AM

    One of the best in this category is out of print but worth pursuing: The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash, first published in the 1970s (EYB entry has no pub date for first edition).

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